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The Senate Disaster

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The gross malapportionment of the Senate means that 1)it will be enormously difficult for Dems to get unified control of the government in 2020 2)the next Democratic government, when it comes, will face a federal judiciary stacked to the gills with young neoconfederates who are unlikely to allow them to govern:

Despite a great night in House elections, Democrats have lost ground in the Senate. Depending on what happens in Florida and Arizona, the party will hold anywhere between 46 and 48 seats in the US Senate. Any of those options represents a net loss for the party, which currently holds 49 seats.

That’s bad enough for the party in the near term. But it’s worse in the medium run. This year’s losses mean that Democrats will have a very hard time retaking the Senate in 2020.

Before the election, FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich noted that with a 52-48 Senate in Republicans’ favor, Democrats in 2020 would need to hold on to Doug Jones’s seat in Alabama, defeat both Susan Collins in Maine and Cory Gardner in Colorado, and pick up a seat in a red state by ousting at least one of Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Joni Ernst in Iowa, Jon Kyl in Arizona (who’s not seeking reelection), or David Perdue in Georgia.

In the worst-case scenario for Democrats, a 54-46 Senate, they’d need to flip five seats and hold on to Alabama. A likely path might involve flipping Maine, Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa, and Arizona, in a year that’s not likely to be as Democratic-leaning as 2018. And that’s assuming that Jones holds on in Alabama, as do New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen, Virginia’s Mark Warner, and Michigan’s Gary Peters. Some of them are likely to hold on, but Jones at least is likely to fall, and Shaheen and Warner came close in 2014. Putting it all together, a Democratic flip sounds unlikely.

The upshot is clear: Democrats will probably remain in the minority in the Senate until at least 2022. That failure will have grave consequences not just for the prospects of future progressive legislation, like Medicare-for-all or action on climate change, but also for the next few decades of the federal judiciary.
Despite a great night in House elections, Democrats have lost ground in the Senate. Depending on what happens in Florida and Arizona, the party will hold anywhere between 46 and 48 seats in the US Senate. Any of those options represents a net loss for the party, which currently holds 49 seats.

That’s bad enough for the party in the near term. But it’s worse in the medium run. This year’s losses mean that Democrats will have a very hard time retaking the Senate in 2020.

Before the election, FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich noted that with a 52-48 Senate in Republicans’ favor, Democrats in 2020 would need to hold on to Doug Jones’s seat in Alabama, defeat both Susan Collins in Maine and Cory Gardner in Colorado, and pick up a seat in a red state by ousting at least one of Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Joni Ernst in Iowa, Jon Kyl in Arizona (who’s not seeking reelection), or David Perdue in Georgia.

In the worst-case scenario for Democrats, a 54-46 Senate, they’d need to flip five seats and hold on to Alabama. A likely path might involve flipping Maine, Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa, and Arizona, in a year that’s not likely to be as Democratic-leaning as 2018. And that’s assuming that Jones holds on in Alabama, as do New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen, Virginia’s Mark Warner, and Michigan’s Gary Peters. Some of them are likely to hold on, but Jones at least is likely to fall, and Shaheen and Warner came close in 2014. Putting it all together, a Democratic flip sounds unlikely.

The upshot is clear: Democrats will probably remain in the minority in the Senate until at least 2022. That failure will have grave consequences not just for the prospects of future progressive legislation, like Medicare-for-all or action on climate change, but also for the next few decades of the federal judiciary.

The primary consequence of Democrats’ failure in the Senate, in the near term, is that they’ll be unable to stop President Trump’s judicial appointments. They’ll have fewer votes to resist with than they did for Brett Kavanaugh.

That could help Republicans solidify or expand their dominance on the Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas is relatively young (only 70), and he could time his retirement for next year or 2020 to ensure a Republican president and Senate determine his successor. And while Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85 and a two-time cancer survivor, and Stephen Breyer, 80, are unlikely to retire under Trump, Democrats should pray for their continued good health, especially given news that Ginsburg fell, broke three ribs, and was admitted to George Washington University Hospital on Thursday morning.

The fact that Kennedy retired strategically and Ginsburg and Breyer put their own interests first in 2013 is another example of the partisan asymmetry that has landed us where we are, just like Pat Leahy falling for the most obvious bad faith scam in history and agreeing to keep a lot of circuit court seats warm for Trump.

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